Catching A Bus In The Big Apple

Catching and riding a bus may seem like the simplest thing to do to go around the city of New York. However, with the great number of buses plus bus routes, it can be a little bit intimidating, especially for someone new in the city.

In a previous post, we’ve provided a guide to using the NY subway.

In this week’s post, we’ll take on the bus…

Why The New York Bus Can Seem Intimidating

There are plenty of public transport options in New York. Many have used the subway in confidence. Buses, however, are quite different. That is because it seems that there are too many bus routes and busses that can be taken to get to your destination. Some feel overwhelmed because it seems too much work to go think about the route and plan the route.

The truth is, although planning your route is useful, you can easily see bus routes through Google Maps in real-time. It is even made easier as it shows you how fast the bus is going and where you exactly are. In that way, you can better estimate if you’ll be able to catch the next bus or if you have to prepare to run fast.

Additionally, bus stops clearly indicate the busses that stop there. You can match these with the suggestions that Google Maps give you. However intimidating it may seem, with the tools you have in the palm of your hands you’ll certainly be able to navigate through the city by catching buses.

Remember These 5 Tips When Catching The New York Buses

If you’ve decided to try taking the bus in New York, you can help make it a better experience if you prepare yourself. Here are 5 tips that you should remember when taking the bus.

Prepare exact change when riding non-express busses

If you are planning to ride non-express busses, make sure you have enough nickels, dimes, and quarters. The regular bus fare is at $2.75 and they don’t accept dollar bills nor pennies so make sure you have the exact fare if you want your experience to go on smoothly. If you don’t want to count coins, it is best to use an unlimited Metro Card.

Take note of route prefixes

Route prefixes are created to make it easier to remember where the routes would mainly operate. Those that have an “M” are for Manhattan, “Bx” is for the Bronx, “B” for Brooklyn, “Q” is for Queens and the “S” for Staten Islands. You’ll also find routes with “X” as the prefix and these represent express routes. These usually cost more versus the non-express. With express routes, you should prepare $6.75 in exact change and an unlimited Metro card can’t be used.

Be aware of “limited” buses.

Buses that have an orange “limited card” on top of the bus only make limited stops. Check and see if the bus stop you want to get off is included in the limited bus stops. If not, take the “local” buses that make all stops.

Validate your ticket if you’re taking any “Special” route.

To make sure you’re riding the right bus and taking the right route you planned, you can validate your ticket especially if you have a “Special” route. This may also be indicated as “SBS”. To do this, simply find the machine at the bus stop. Press start and enter your unlimited Metro Card. Then you can enter any door when the bus stops.

Pull the cord or push the button when you want to get off.

To get off the bus, you can either push the button or pull the cord. Then wait for the bus to stop. When it does, you can now touch the door in the area indicated by the yellow panels and the door will automatically swing open.

Steps To Catching A Bus In New York

Just to be clear, we’ve enumerated the steps you should take to catch a bus in New York. They are as follows:

  1. Find a bus stop – Bus stops are usually located in street corners. You can easily identify them because of the yellow paint and a sign that shows a bus emblem. The sign will also show the route number.
  2. Select your route and ride the correct bus – As we’ve told above, bus routes have different prefixes which will easily tell you about their route. Also, take note of the “Limited” card on the bus window. These are the ones that will stop at major intersections or attractions and transportation points only. Those without the card are local buses and they make all stops.
  3. Pay the fare – You can use your MetroCard or exact change to pay the bus. The fare is usually $2.75 except for express buses that charge $6.75.
  4. Request a transfer – If you need a transfer, you can get a request pass from the driver, or else you’ll be charged twice.
  5. Sit or stand while waiting to reach your bus stop. 
  6. Pull the cord or push the button to notify the driver that you want to get off. – Bus stops are usually at an interval of 2 to 3 blocks. When you’re about to reach your stop, make sure to notify the driver a block early.